Losses caused by natural hazards to agriculture continue to skyrocket

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released a new report on Thursday (March 18th) showing that losses from natural disasters to agriculture continue to skyrocket across the country. world. According to this report entitled “The impact of disasters and crises on agriculture and food security: 2021”, the annual number of disasters is now higher more than three times that of the 1970s and 1980s and the increased losses caused by these hazards cause economic damage and compromise nutrition. Indeed, in addition to the loss of human life, these disasters “also cause the destruction of agricultural livelihoods and lead to a cascade of negative economic consequences at the household, community, country and regional level, which can persist for years to come. generations ”, underlined the UN agency. It is important to note the fact that agriculture suffers most of the financial losses and damages caused by disasters, the frequency, intensity and complexity of which have continued to increase, as noted in the said report which presents the most recent figures for agricultural production losses attributed to disasters across all agricultural sectors. It must be said that “of the four sectors that are agriculture, industry, trade and tourism, agriculture alone suffers a disproportionate share of the impact of these disasters, that is to say 63%”, noted the United Nations agency specifies that the least developed countries (LDCs) and low-income and middle-income countries are the hardest hit by these scourges. It should be noted that drought is the main cause of production losses in the agricultural sector, ahead of floods, storms, pests and diseases, and fires. Note that “more than 34% of crop and animal production losses in LDCs and low-income and middle-income countries are attributable to drought,” noted the FAO in its report. And to specify that this represents an overall cost of 37 billion USD for the sector ”. That’s not all. According to this report, drought strikes almost exclusively agriculture which suffers 82% of its negative effects against 18% for all other sectors. Having become major stressors for the sector, pests, diseases and infestations of crops and livestock caused 9% of all crop and animal production losses between 2008 and 2018. To better appreciate the financial losses and damages caused by disasters, the report states that between 2008 and 2018, “the effects of disasters cost agricultural sectors in developing country economies more than USD 108 billion in damage or loss to crops and animal production.” The organization goes on to say that all of this damage can be particularly damaging to the livelihoods of smallholders and subsistence farmers, pastoralists and fishermen. With overall economic losses amounting to US $ 49 billion, Asia was the hardest hit region during the reporting period, FAO said. Just ahead of Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean with USD 30 billion and USD 29 billion respectively. Note that the 2021 edition of the report covers 457 disasters in 109 countries across all regions and income categories, including for the first time those in upper middle-income and high-income countries, explained FAO, which makes a number of recommendations for governments around the world. The agency stresses that at no other time in history have agrifood systems been so subjected to a new and unprecedented array of perils. Namely: mega-fires, extreme weather conditions, swarms of desert locusts of unusual magnitude and emerging biological threats such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Alain Bouithy